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While the language of the contract would prevail, depending on the location of the company, and the choice of law clause, the legal actions one could take would greatly differ.
Hi, ok yes, i'm online
First, there could be a breach of contract claim (usually the same in each state) However, depending on the state, you may also have a breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, a breach of the public policy exception, a claim for promissory estoppel, or a breach of additional contracts such as those found in an employment manual or handbook.
Do you want me to go into all of these? Or did you want to tailor your question down to be more specific?
For example, only Texas law?
Yes, I think we need to keep it focused on Texas as that is where I had worked for the company as was relocated to. I know a little bit about Illinois law in this regards XXXXX XXXXX familiar with Texas employment law.
Do you want me to provide more background on the situation?
Okay, in Texas, the language of the contract usually prevails, however, you are never required to pay back any money if you are not the one in breach (i.e. you are fired). Do you know if in the contract it states
Yes, please provide me with a little more information. Specifically what it states in the contract relating to relocation costs
Yes, it states payback to be either voluntary or not...it's harsh language but is it enforceable?
I relocated from Illinois to Texas
And I take it that you want to quit that company, correct, as if you are terminated there are numerous cases which would allow you to get out of it depending on the circumstances, regardless of the language, (which actually could void the entire contract)
Yes, i resigned but I was compelled to do to hostile workplace that I have documented.
I was suprised they decided to pursue me for the funds given the situation.
Was the hostile work environment due to a protected category? Do you believe that you were "constructively terminated" Do you want me to go into more detail about what constructive termination is?
Regardless, I know there are certain conditions that would side step the claim....such as in Illinois I know that if you move yourself out of state following leaving a company they can not chase you for the funds
However, in this instance Texas law would be the law which would take place as that is where you left the company
e.g. where you worked
I left so that I did not have to go done the route of a hostile workplace. I'd rather go after if there are other loop holes
ok, hummm....so following my resignation for said circumstances, I moved myself out of the state. Does this help?
Can they pursue me in any state?
So if you can show that the company was in breach, and not you, then you can easily get out of the contract.
They can pursue you in any state but they must serve you.
In the contract there is a choice of law clause. That clause will likely say texas.
You can then argue that they must either follow 1) the choice of law clause, or 2) the location where the employment took place
So, while they would have to serve you in Illinois, they would apply texas law
But, constructive termination may have taken place here.
Can you tell me more about this hostile work environment?
Ah, got it.... Ok so how do I position it so that the company was in breach? Do I write them a letter stating the reasons in response the claim for repayment of relocation funds or is there another way?
If they have not filed a lawsuit against you, and have just sent you a threatening letter, you can either 1) ignore it, or 2) write a letter as to why they were in breach.
Sorry, your texting faster than I...trying to keep up, sorry
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX So the letter of breach, does that need to come from a lawyer or can I write it?
Not a problem, please ask me to slow down if needed and I will be happy to do so. The underlying legal question here is whether something the employer did was a sufficiently material breach of your employment agreement to relieve you of your obligation to repay relocation costs.
You can write it, however, if it comes from a lawyer, they are much less likely to pursue something that a lawyer has looked and is willing to write a letter on.
Yes, got it. This is hard to prove I'm sure. However, i have it well documented with HR months prior of my struggle with the environment.
That is usually the first step of constructive termination. That you tried to rectify the situation first with HR, and they did not help you in any way. In the end, a "reasonable person" (the legal standard) would have been no choice but to resign given the circumstances.
Yes, that's exactly how I left and how I framed the situation
HR pressed me to file a hostile work investigation, I said that was not something that I thought would help the situation given all my attempts to remedy prior.
Ok, so I need to a lawyer to send a letter. Do you give recommendations for lawyers whom could help?
Unfortunately, I cannot give you a direct referral as that would be against the terms of service of the site. However,
if you decide to hire an attorney a great resource is www.Martindale.com. This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys willing to take your case prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.
Ok, thanks for the source
Not a problem. Have I fully answered your question today?
One last question. Just so I cover all aspects. Back to the question with regards XXXXX XXXXX moving out of state, does this help me at all in Texas?
Meaning the fact that you moved away from Texas?
What county was it in? I want to make sure there are not specific county laws related to your question.
The city will also be fine
The company is HP
Houston case law does suggest that any agreement for repayment of more than 2 years would be deemed unconscionable and you would not have to pay back any amount after that time.
Were you employed at that company for more than 2 years?
I was there 6 months
So, unfortunately, no the fact that it was Texas does not give you a particular benefit as it would had you moved away from Illinois
I moved from Illinois to Texas but I did not move back to Illinois after I resigned, I moved to California
I guess, it's clear I did not use the company to relocate me to a location. This is typically why they pursue individuals. I know in the past others have left like me but were not pursued.
But you worked in Texas, correct?
Yes, I worked in Texas for HP
Unfortunately, it is entirely up to the discretion of the company in a situation like this. They look at 1) the likelihood that they will prevail, and 2) the desire to cause problems
If you did not leave on good terms, the likelihood goes up
If in your complaints to HR you did not reference a protected class, such as your race, age, gender, etc. the likelihood may also go up
Yes, it's clear gender related
Ok, but this is good info why they think they can get repayment
Then it sounds like you would definitely have good grounds to send a letter referencing constructive termination and all of the numerous complaints you filed. Getting an attorney would definitely be the best way to go.
As for why, if they have not actually filed a lawsuit against you, then it is possible they are doing this to be obnoxious, as that stage of the determination will not be based on repayment.
Otherwise, they would be banking on the fact that you never stated "complaint of gender discrimination" to them, but rather just mentioned the incidences, that would sound more like general incidences of bullying.
When you speak to an attorney, you may also want to consider talking to them about filing a claim against the company with the EEOC for gender discrimnation.
They have sent an email demanding repayment with a past due notice. According to the description I have 30 days to remedy. After that I guess they could sue me. I guess it would be best to send a letter prior
As you may end up with front pay, back pay, and emotional damages.
That would be the best way to deal with it yes.
Because if an attorney does not feel they have strong grounds to win a lawsuit, they will not bring one as it will cost the company significantly more to try a faulty case (and wind up in sanctions for the attorney)
Ok, as you mentioned the diferences between general bullying and gender, where do you draw the line?
Unfortunately, courts have made a rather ridiculous differentiation in this matter. The simple matter is that if you said that you were discriminated against because of your gender, this would qualify. Then, all of the treatment would fall under that category.
However, if you knew this was the case, but did not specifically reference gender discrimination, then it would be considered general bullying, which would be legal.
It is discussed by the EEOC here:
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